- Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), announced three requests for proposals (RFP) for renewable and short-term generating capacity Monday as the utility works to boost its clean energy portfolio.
- The RFP seeks bids for up to 3,000 MW of wind resources, up to 300 MW of solar and short-term accredited deliverable capacity up to 250 MW. The wind resources must each be at least 100 MW, interconnect to the 14-state Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and must be located in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri.
- The move comes as AEP is expanding its wind production with the $2 billion North Central wind project. The first part of the 1.5 GW project — the 199 MW Sundance Wind Energy Center in Oklahoma — came online in April, with the remainder of the project projected to be operational by early 2022.
In AEP's 2021 first quarter earnings call in April, president and CEO Nicholas Akins touted the utility's "significant progress in diversifying our generation fleet." In that call, Akins said the company has identified roughly 15,000 MW of wind and solar investment opportunities over the next decade on top of the North Central project, with almost 10,000 MW proposed between 2021 and 2025. It also comes as the utility is preparing for the retirement of a total of 8,000 MW in fossil fuel generation and expiring PPAs.
The investments, Akins said, will keep AEP on a path to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050. "We are committed to making the energy we provide as clean as possible as fast as we can without compromising reliability, affordability or the security of the electric power grid," Akins told shareholders and analysts on the call.
The RFPs announced Monday are separate from the North Central project, the three-state development pitched as a way to take advantage of the country's best wind resources in central Oklahoma. After the completion of the Sundance farm, the project will continue with the expected completion of the Maverick wind farm later this year and the Traverse project in early 2022. SWEPCO already purchases 469 MW of wind power from facilities in the Texas Panhandle, western Oklahoma and south-central Kansas.
SWEPCO will reduce its coal generating capacity by almost 1,900 MW over the next eight years and is retiring several natural gas units.
Beyond the wind RFP, SWEPCO is also seeking solar resources of at least 50 MW from within SWEPCO's service territory that can interconnect to its transmission system in the SPP. Proposals for short-term capacity must be at least 50 MW from SPP resources. The wind and solar projects are seeking a commercial operational deadline of Dec. 15, 2024, or Dec. 15, 2025, which would allow projects to take advantage of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) before it expires. Bids are due by Aug. 12 and will be subject to regulatory approvals from regulators in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.